8 Tips on How to Leave a Job

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Resignation letter being placed on the desk of the boss When you leave a job, it’s important to give notice in a professional manner. You don’t want to burn any bridges: networking is crucial to your career. Here are eight tips for leaving a job the right way:

1. Give Your Employer Ample Notice

Two weeks is typical, but you may want to consider giving even more notice, depending on your job. As U.S. News and World Report says, “For employees with a position that requires a specialized skill set, it’s recommended to give more advanced warning.”

If you are one of these highly specialized employees, you can make your exit easier on your employer by giving them more time to find and train your replacement.

2. Do the Deed Gracefully

As Allison Doyle says at About.com, “Don’t say much more than you are leaving. Emphasize the positive and talk about how the company has benefited you, but mention that it’s time to move on. Offer to help during the transition and afterwards. Don’t be negative. There’s no point – you’re leaving and you want to leave on good terms.”

3. Train Your Successor

This ties into Doyle’s point about leaving gracefully. Help your successor succeed. Doing so could end up being a valuable networking tool down the road: your former employer will be pleased with you, and your former coworkers will sing your praises.

4. Don’t Destabilize

Greg Savage, writing at Undercover Recruiter, shares this tidbit (and other good ones): “Resist the temptation to vent, to criticize, to undermine, and to pour negativity like a trail of dog-poo around the office ‘because you know better and you are leaving.’ It’s not a good look, and it makes you look ridiculous. Really.”

5. Work Those Last Two Weeks

Your future is dead in the water with your current company if you phone it in during the last two weeks of employment. Take time off before your next job starts, not while your current employer is paying you.

6. The Exit Interview 

Jacquelyn Smith, a staff writer at Forbes, quotes Andy Teach, a corporate veteran and author of “From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time,” who advises, “You want the HR department to know the positives and negatives of your experiences with the hope that they will listen to you and take action when necessary. However, if you’re too honest and you are overly critical of an important executive or of the company itself, you could hurt your reputation within that company and could jeopardize your chances of getting a reference from them.”

7. Only Discuss Counter-Offers if You Might Stay

Taunee Besson, a columnist at CareerCast, offers this advice: “When it comes to salary negotiation, a counteroffer can often be a mixed blessing. If you get one from your present employer, it raises the uncomfortable issue of deciding to stay after you’ve already indicated you don’t want to work there anymore. Ultimately, engaging in salary negotiation with your present employer is a very personal process. Once you understand the potential benefits and dangers of accepting a counteroffer or moving on, you have to ask yourself: ‘Which choice feels right?'”

8. Clean Your Plate

As Savage points out, “Close as many of your working orders and other projects as you can. I had a woman once who left the business with her record-ever quarter. She left with her head held high, and we paid her bonus gladly. Twelve months later, when her new job turned out to be a dud, we hired her back.”

That last bit of advice may be the most important. You can’t come back to a company that you treated poorly the first time you left. Why would it hire you back? And, more importantly, why would you want to work at a place you railed against?

By Keith Griffin